With the 6th overall pick, the Phoenix Suns are in prime position to swap their pick with a later pick, and get a veteran in return. If they drop back, Nassir Little could be their target.
Nassir Little was a late bloomer in high school but has quite the NBA body because of it – size that the Phoenix Suns desperately need in the front court.
Little (a truly ironic name for a man of his physique) stands at 6’6″ with a 7’1″ wingspan and is solid muscle.
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He has the physical tools to thrive in the NBA, although he struggled in his one season a UNC. Unfortunately, he often looked out of place and had to fight for minutes. Still, Little has significant NBA upside if he can add a formidable set of post skills together with his size.
When you look at Little’s advanced numbers, he did three things particularly well especially given his situation:
One – he grabbed 9.4% of available offensive rebounds and 19.6% of the available defensive rebounds in conference play (ranking him 10th in the ACC).
Two – he posted a block rate of 3.3% and drew 4.8 fouls per 40 minutes. With his ready-made NBA frame and athleticism to match, he used that effectively in college to hit the glass hard, attacking off of closeouts and on lob plays, and provide solid defense.
Three – he shot the ball pretty well from the free throw line (77%) which is indicative of the ability to build a mid-range and possibly deeper jumper.
With those positive though come negatives, and there are still glaring holes for Little.
He looked lost on offense at UNC and was not an effective spot-up shooter (as mentioned, that needs to develop). He tends to zone out off ball on defense and can get out of position easily.
His tendency to force shots and drives led to a very high turnover rate for a forward (16.1%) that was more than double his assist rate (6.4%).
Also in order to earn minutes for UNC, he had to bulk up and play as a big which limited his natural lateral quickness.
Little has all the physical tools to succeed in the NBA and has high defensive upside to match a potentially explosive offensive transition game. The question is if he will be able to fit in or if he will struggle as much as he did in college to find his place.
If the Phoenix Suns trade back, they might take a look at Little and hope that he can develop into a serviceable long-term power forward.